Kansas City Wrongful Death Attorneys
Compassionate Support in Your Time of Need
No amount of money makes up for the death a loved one. An admission or jury finding of negligence doesn’t cure the grief and anger. Yet a wrongful death lawsuit is for the survivors, to compensate for the personal and economic losses and to hold the negligent parties to justice for their careless or reckless actions.
The law firm of Dempsey & Kingsland, P.C. handles wrongful death litigation resulting from fatal accidents and other negligence. Our Kansas City wrongful death attorneys have obtained notable verdicts and settlements for a variety of cases. We practice personal injury in the Kansas City area and surrounding counties of Missouri and Kansas.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
In a wrongful death claim, the relatives of the decedent (the person who died) may file claims for compensation if the death results from a negligent act. As explained below, not all relatives have standing to file these claims. State law specifies the identity of the family members of the deceased who may bring these actions.
Most wrongful death claims are settled out of court but some cases are tried to a verdict. These cases are processed as civil cases as opposed to criminal cases. Although monetary payment can never make up for appropriate compensation to family members, a wrongful death claim provides a means of holding the wrongdoer accountable for his/her negligent act.
Wrongful death claims may arise in relation to a wide range of fatal accidents and injuries, including:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Boating accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Slip and falls
- Bus accidents
Under What Circumstances Is a Wrongful Death Claim Appropriate?
Wrongful death claims are essentially the same as personal claims. If the person had survived, would he/she have had a claim for their personal injuries? If so, the deceased’s family members as specified by law will likely have the right to file a wrongful death claim.
The following must be proven in a wrongful death claim:
- A death occurred due to a negligent act or omission.
- The person(s) who are filing the claim have the legal standing (family relationship with the deceased) as required by law.
Compensation in Wrongful Death Cases
When a wrongful death claim is successfully proven, plaintiffs may be awarded compensation for both economic and non-economic losses. Economic damages seek to compensate the deceased person's family for the real monetary losses associated with the death such as funeral costs and medical bills, while non-economic damages seek to address the more subjective but still very real losses related to things like emotional distress, loss of consortium, and loss of companionship.
Although each case is different, plaintiffs in wrongful death cases may be able to receive compensation for:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of the future earnings of the deceased
- Loss of household and family services provided by the deceased, including housework, yard work, child care, training, tutoring, care of elderly parents and more
- Loss of nonpecuniary consortium, companionship, comfort, guidance, counsel, love, and support
- The victim’s conscious pain and suffering and medical expenses before death
Kansas and Missouri have different wrongful death laws and may impose caps on certain types of damages. Our lawyers advise clients about the specific provisions of statutes in each state. We have the knowledge, tools, and experience to build strong cases and help clients obtain justice after a devastating loss.
Who May File a Wrongful Death Claim in Kansas City?
State laws determine which parties may file a wrongful death claim:
- Missouri: Missouri has specific rules governing who can file a wrongful death claim. Under Missouri Revised Statute § 537.080, first in line to bring such a claim are the deceased person's surviving spouse, parents, children, or, if the children are deceased, the children's descendants. If there are no survivors in this first category, the surviving siblings or his or her descendants may file a wrongful death lawsuit. If there is no one from either category, a person entitled to a share of the proceeds from the lawsuit may ask the court to appoint a "plaintiff ad litem" to bring the claim on their behalf.
- Kansas: In Kansas, wrongful death claims are brought by the deceased person's estate for the benefit of their "heirs at law," or those who "take by intestate succession (without a will) under Kansas statues." For example, if the deceased left a surviving spouse, but no children, all property passes to the spouse by intestate succession. In this situation, the surviving spouse would be considered an heir at law. It is best to consult with a knowledgeable Kansas City wrongful death attorney to determine how this provision applies to your specific case.
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Kansas City?
It is important to remember that like any lawsuit, wrongful death claims must be filed within a certain time period in order to be heard by the courts. This is known as a "statute of limitations." If the statute of limitations period passes and you have not yet filed a claim, you will essentially lose you right to sue and will be unable to pursue compensation for your loved one's death. Since complying with the statute of limitations can ultimately make or break your wrongful death claim, it is important to act fast and get an attorney involved early on in your case.
- Missouri: The statute of limitations for wrongful death in Missouri is three years from the date of death.
- Kansas: The statute of limitations for wrongful death in Kansas is two years from the date of death.
The statute of limitations may sometimes be extended or "tolled" in rare circumstances where the negligence leading to the deceased person's death was concealed or otherwise unknown. An attorney can review the circumstances of your case and help you understand how the statute of limitations applies to your claim.
Fighting Back Against the Insurance Company
Insurance companies often balk at large damages for the noneconomic aspects – such as loss of companionship, pain, and suffering – so we prepare claims from the start as if we will have to convince a jury. Law partners Lee Dempsey and Bob Kingsland are accomplished trial lawyers who each bring more than 25 years of experience to your wrongful death case. They are skilled at adding value to settlements through the use of experts, decades of accumulated knowledge, and by not caving in when insurers try to draw the line.
Work with Dempsey & Kingsland
Our Kansas City wrongful death attorneys are here to counsel you about the legal process and discuss the calculations that make up a wrongful death claim. We understand that many clients are concerned that they will be unable to take care of their families if the deceased was the breadwinner. Others may worry about paying for child care or acquiring the skills needed to return to the workforce. We offer you the answers to questions such as these, helping you understand your options and offering you new perspectives about your future.
Get in touch with us today to schedule a free consultation. Call (816) 484-3776.